Banyuwangi’s Mystical Tradition: Kebo-Keboan, a Farmer’s Theatrical Showcase

Banyuwangi's Mystical Tradition- Kebo-Keboan, a Farmer's Theatrical Showcase – Banyuwangi, a hidden gem nestled in the heart of Java, offers more than just breathtaking landscapes. This enchanting region boasts a unique cultural treasure: the Kebo-Keboan tradition, a theatrical performance blending the supernatural and artistic elements. As you embark on your journey through Java with Java Private Tour, let us guide you into the mystical realm of Banyuwangi’s Kebo-Keboan.

Exploring the Origin of Kebo-Keboan

Dating back to the 18th century, the Kebo-Keboan tradition originated in the Osing Tribe in Alasmalang Village. Legend has it that a supernatural epidemic plagued both the people and crops, leading to widespread illness and failed harvests. In a quest for a solution, village elder Mbah Karti guided the community in a grand celebration where farmers portrayed buffaloes to honor Dewi Sri, the goddess of prosperity.

In a mesmerizing turn of events, the celebration miraculously ended the epidemic and restored the crops. This marked the birth of Kebo-Keboan, an annual event held on the first Sunday of the month of Muharram, showcasing unique variations in each village.

Kebo-Keboan Banyuwangi Tradition

Why Buffaloes and Not Cows?

Buffaloes were chosen due to their significant role in daily farming activities, providing substantial help to farmers. Their strength surpassed that of cows, making them indispensable for plowing the fields. The Kebo-Keboan performance serves as an expression of gratitude to these mighty creatures for their invaluable assistance.

Kebo-Keboan Across Villages

Presently, only two villages in Banyuwangi, Alasmalang and Aliyan, continue the Kebo-Keboan tradition. Despite sharing the same purpose of expressing gratitude and warding off pests, the preparations and rituals differ between these two villages.

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Alasmalang’s Kebo-Keboan Procession:

  1. Selection of buffalo actors by the traditional leader.
  2. Joint feast with 12 cone-shaped rice dishes symbolizing the months and days of the week in the Javanese calendar.
  3. Procession of human-buffaloes led by elders around the village.
  4. Distribution of rice seeds to farmers.

Aliyan’s Kebo-Keboan Procession:

  1. Selection of buffalo actors in alignment with ancestral spirits.
  2. Installation of banners and gates along the village streets adorned with crops like rice, corn, and sugarcane.
  3. Creation of a mud pit for the buffalo-human antics.
  4. Piling up harvested fruits and vegetables as symbols of gratitude.
  5. Village-wide procession of human-buffaloes.
  6. Ngurit moment, distributing rice seeds to farmers for planting.

The Ritual’s Execution

In the days leading up to Kebo-Keboan, villagers engage in communal cleaning activities. Women gather to prepare offerings, including cone-shaped rice, traditional cakes, and ceremonial water jugs. Young men contribute by organizing tools and materials for the ceremony.

On the day of the event, a collective prayer is conducted in the morning before the Keboans, adorned in black with oil smears, artificial horns, wigs, and some carrying plows, parade through the village. Accompanied by a beautiful woman portraying Dewi Sri, the goddess of rice, they engage in antics, sometimes charging at onlookers. The highlight is when they roll and splash in the mud, symbolizing the buffaloes’ role in the fields.

The event concludes with the distribution of rice seeds believed to carry blessings, fostering enthusiasm among farmers eager to secure a prosperous harvest. The evening festivities often include a shadow puppet play depicting the story of Dewi Sri, providing entertainment for the community.

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Significance of Kebo-Keboan

Beyond its spectacular display, Kebo-Keboan plays a pivotal role in preserving Banyuwangi’s cultural heritage. This tradition symbolizes strength, reverence for ancestors, belief in the spiritual realm, and gratitude to the Almighty.

Kebo-Keboan acts as a magnet for tourists seeking to delve into Banyuwangi’s distinctive culture. Through this ritual, the people of Banyuwangi not only strengthen their cultural identity but also uphold the noble values passed down through generations.

Discover the Magic with Java Private Tour

As you plan your Java adventure, let Java Private Tour be your gateway to Banyuwangi’s cultural richness. Our certified local guides, fluent in English, offer a flexible and personalized experience, ensuring you witness the wonders of Kebo-Keboan and other hidden gems. Trusted by satisfied embassies, Java Private Tour is more than a service; it’s a journey into the heart of Java’s traditions. Explore, experience, and embrace the magic with us at Java Private Tour. BOOK HERE NOW


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